Way back in April, I asked my readers to fill out a short survey; 120 of you did, which I thought was pretty good. It’s taken me some time to compile the results — which is putting it mildly, since it’s been four months. Chalk it up to procrastination, feeble Excel skills, and a busier than expected schedule.
For this survey, I eschewed the usual demographic questions like sex and income that advertisers like, and tried to limit my questions to those I thought I could make some use of, not just for advertising, but also to find out whether what I was posting was on-target, and whether I should be offering certain features. Mostly, though, I was curious about who was coming here: raw amateurs like me, collectors, cartographers?
I’ll present the results in two parts. What follows is the first part: a look at what my readers are like and what they’re interested in. In the second part, coming later, I’ll look at how you read The Map Room and what you think about it.
You’re mostly American, with most of the rest of you coming from the English-speaking world. Individual responses from Australia, France, Hungary, Japan, St. Maarten, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland and a globetrotter with no fixed address.
No surprises here, given where you’re from. Individual responses: Hungarian, Japanese and Swedish.
Linux, BSD or Unix
A surprisingly strong showing for the Mac platform, considering; but then I post more Mac-related content than I probably should. That, or Mac users are more likely to fill out surveys.
|Firefox, Mozilla or Netscape 6/7|
Internet Explorer (Windows)
An even bigger surprise is to see Firefox and its open-source counterparts pull ahead of IE. Granted, Firefox has seen some strong gains in market share recently. On the other hand, recent stats for the entire mcwetboy.net domain still put IE in front (The Map Room accounts for about 85 per cent of mcwetboy.net’s bandwidth), so this may come down to selection bias. Any way you look at it, the Firefox contingent is still very strong; and, combined with the Mac-only Safari, around half of you are looking at this site via a reasonably standards-compliant browser.
About a third of respondents said they did, which seems high. Bloggers are an influential bunch — or at least we like to think that we are — so I wanted to measure the potential of my posts being picked up elsewhere.
|RSS or Atom feed|
Two things I wanted to measure in particular here: how many bloggers used TrackBack, and how many used TypeKey. At the time I’d been getting a tremendous amount of spam via TrackBack; if it was widely unused, I might feel better about jettisoning it. Since then, though, improved spam blocking has all but ended that problem. As for TypeKey, I’d had some trouble getting it to work, because my Movable Type install is on a different URL than The Map Room, and apparently TypeKey doesn’t like that. Only one of you said you used TypeKey, though, so I’m not going to worry about that.
|No, I just like maps|
Academe (cartography, geography) or student
For the most part, you’re enthusiastic amateurs rather than professionals. This has important implications for this blog, and not just in terms of advertising possibilities. Many of the other mapping blogs are aimed at a professional audience and deal with professional concerns. If you’re mostly a bunch of map lovers, then you’re much more interested in links to mapping sites than, say, coverage of the latest industry conference or business news. Not that I won’t cover the latter subjects, just that it’s important to remember who my audience is, and what my role is. Which is something of a relief, because I’m not a professional either.
ESRI products in general
Since most of you don’t do GIS, there were comparatively few responses, and a wide variety of them. Every program that got more than one response is listed above.
Map dealers take note: nearly two-thirds of my readers identify themselves as collectors. On a less crass note, this was more an exercise in self-identification: I didn’t set out any criteria for map collecting, i.e., whether you have any antique maps, number of maps, etc.
Reproductions of old maps
Aviation or nautical charts
I’ll confess that I had an eye on possible advertising when asking this question, but it was also another way of evaluating where your interests lay. Only a third of you own a GPS — more on that in a moment.
Others (17), each:
Three write-ins make the cut, and there were many multiple responses: many of you use more than one service. Of course, this field has changed so dramatically since early April that these results are probably quite stale. It’s interesting to see, though, that Google Maps had edged out MapQuest for the top spot after less than two months. Microsoft’s MapPoint is well behind the big three, though ahead of the European services; it’ll be interesting to see, if I do this survey again, whether Virtual Earth does any better.
Online mapping sites (e.g. Google Maps, MapQuest)
History of mapmaking
Traffic and transit maps
Maps of news stories
Mapping hacks and DIY mapmaking
Others (22), each:
When I was tabulating these results, I suddenly worried that I’d been providing too much coverage for subjects that you didn’t care much for. To my great relief, my admittedly heavy coverage of Google Maps/Earth and its competitors coincides nicely with your high interest in both satellite imagery and online mapping sites.
Most of the subjects I suggested — with the only real exception of geocaching, which I guess is still kind of a niche hobby — enjoy healthy interest. I note that there’s a strong interest in topo maps, which I have not posted much on to date (seven entries since January 2004); I’ll see if I can dig up some more.
It’s also interesting that about half of you indicate an interest in GPS, but only a third of you actually own one of the gadgets. I wonder if some “buyer’s guide” material would be of interest — not that I actually know anything along those lines, since I don’t own one either. Just a thought.